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Heres the theoretical scenario; we have a social event to which about half of the attending guests brings a camera, many photos are taken. Later, at home, everyone uploads their photos to their favorite photo hosting service. Each person then visits the others, downloading their favorite photos and reupload them to their own album to share with their own friends.

The problem then arises as someone is trying to see all the photos from the event. Many different places to check and the more albums you visit, the fewer original photos you see.

In a perfect world, everyone would totally agree on which photo service is the best and we could use something like Flickr Groups. Since that probably wont happen Im looking for alternatives.

The tool Im looking for would be able to "pull" photos from an album/service and place it into a "metaalbum" for that event. And I still want to credit the photographer, so the original user, service and album should be listed. It would also be great if comments and the like could be pulled from the different services into this meta album.

I currently feel that the best way to achieve this would be to simply make a meta album and manually "pull" the others photos myself (probably using some tool) in which case the only really important feature would be duplication checking. And maybe the fetching of comments, but I dont think thats entirely realistic.

Havent found much about this with Google searches, but on the other hand I dont really know the terms I should search for. Has anyone encountered these problems? And/or attempted to solve them? Is there any wisdow out there ready to be shared?

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2 Answers

What you're looking for is a "web spider" or a "web scraper" or a "web crawler". These are programs that follow links and download content based on criteria.

The bad news is, I can't really point you at a reliable piece of commercial software. Scraping tends to be quasi-legal at best (I'd be surprised if scrapers/spiders weren't expressly forbidden in the terms of service for your photo hosting site).

On top of that, depending on what metadata is attached to the images, and whether it's readable to your program, and whether they have "rational" names, rather than database index generated keys, it may not be possible to scrape them as finely as you'd like...You might have to download someones entire photo album, for example, just to get the pictures you want.

Sad to say it, but you're probably better off doing it by hand.

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I think RSS feeds are the way to go.

Most photosharing sites can provide RSS feeds. You can ask all the attendees to provide a feed from the gallery with their photos from the event.

Now you have a list of feeds. Now you have a few options:

1) You can set up a blog Tumblr that will show the contents from all these feeds as a blog. Go to customize and then you can set up Tumblr to fetch the feeds into the blog.

2) You can create a aggregated feed with Yahoo! Pipes. Create one input for each of the feeds and join them all into one. The attendees can look at this feed in their favorite feed reader, or you could perhaps find a photosite that would import the pictures from all these feeds into a single album.

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I like the Pipes/Aggregation idea, which does go on the assumption that all of the sites will have RSS, and that you may not get a "beautiful" screen of thumbnails like you might see on each individual site... then again, such could be arranged with some custom Wordpress tweaking, or hooking up a Posterous account to the RSS, if possible. –  anonymous coward Oct 14 '09 at 19:49
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